Read THE OUTER WORLD - CHAPTER XVIII. of The Christian A Story, free online book, by Hall Caine, on

John Storm wrote a letter to Mrs. Callender explaining Polly Love’s situation and asking her to call on the girl immediately, and then he went out in search of Lord Robert Ure at the address he had discovered in the report.

He found the man alone on his arrival, but Drake came in soon afterward.  Lord Robert received him with a chilly bow; Drake offered his hand coldly; neither of them requested him to sit.

“You are surprised at my visit, gentlemen,” said John, “but I have just now been present at a painful scene, and I thought it necessary that you should know something about it.”

Then he described what had occurred in the board room, and in doing so dwelt chiefly on the abjectness of the girl’s humiliation.  Lord Robert stood by the window rapping a tune on the window pane, and Drake sat in a low chair with his legs stretched out and his hands in his trousers pockets.

“But I am at a loss to understand why you have thought it necessary to come here to tell that story,” said Lord Robert.

“Lord Robert,” said John, “you understand me perfectly.”

“Excuse me, Mr. Storm, I do not understand you in the least.”

“Then I will not ask you if you are responsible for the girl’s position.”


“But I will ask you a simpler and easier question.”

“What is it?”

“When are you going to marry her?”

Lord Robert burst into ironical laughter and faced round to Drake.

“Well, these menthese curatestheir assurance, don’t you know...  May I ask your reverence what is your position in this matteryour standing, don’t you know?”

“That of chaplain of the hospital.”

“But you say she has been, turned out of it.”

“Very well, Lord Robert, merely that of a man who intends to protect an injured woman.”

“Oh, I know,” said Lord Robert dryly, “I understand these heroics.  I’ve heard of your sermons, Mr. Stormyour interviews with ladies, and so forth.”

“And I have heard of your doings with girls,” said John.  “What are you going to do for this one?”

“Exactly what I please.”

“Take care!  You know what the girl is.  It’s precisely such girls At this moment she is tottering on the brink of hell, Lord Robert.  If anything further should happenif you should disappoint hershe is looking to you and building up hopesif she should fall still lower and destroy herself body and soul ”

“My dear Mr. Storm, please understand that I shall do everything or nothing for the girl exactly as I think well, don’t you know, without the counsel or coercion of any clergyman.”

There was a short silence, and then John Storm said quietly:  “It is no worse than I expected.  But I had to hear it from your own lips, and I have heard it.  Good-day.”

He went back to the hospital and asked for Glory.  She was banished with Polly to the housekeeper’s room.  Polly was catching flies on the window (which overlooked the park) and humming, “Sigh no more, ladies.”  Glory’s eyes were red with weeping.  John drew Glory aside.

“I have written to Mrs. Callender, and she will be here presently,” he said.

“It is useless,” said Glory.  “Polly will refuse to go.  She expects Lord Robert to come for her, and she wants me to call on Mr. Drake.”

“But I have seen the man myself.”

“Lord Robert?”

“Yes.  He will do nothing.”


“Nothing, or worse than nothing.”


“Nothing of that kind is impossible to men like those.”

“They are not so bad as that though, and even if Lord Robert is all you say, Mr. Drake ”

“They are friends and housemates, Glory, and what the one is the other must be also.”

“Oh, no.  Mr. Drake is quite a different person.”

“Don’t be misled, my child.  If there were any real difference between them ”

“But there is; and if a girl were in trouble or wanted help in anything ”

“He would drop her, Glory, like an old lottery ticket that has drawn a blank and is done for.”

She was biting her lip, and it was bleeding slightly.

“You dislike Mr. Drake,” she said, “and that is why you can not be just to him.  But he is always praising and excusing you, and when any one ”

“His praises and excuses are nothing to me.  I am not thinking of myself.  I am thinking ”

He had a look of intense excitement, and his speaking was abrupt and disconnected.

“You were splendid this morning, Glory, and when I think of the girl who defied that Pharisee, being perhaps herself the victimThe man asked me what my standing was, as if thatBut if I had really had a right, if the girl had been anything to me, if she had been somebody else and not a light, shallow, worthless creature, do you know what I should have said to him?  ’Since things have gone so far, sir, you must marry the girl now, and keep to her and be faithful to her, and love her, or else I ”

“You are flushed and excited, and there is something I do not understand ”

“Promise me, Glory, that you will break off this bad connection.”

“You are unreasonable.  I can not promise.”

“Promise that you will never see these men again.”

“But I must see Mr. Drake at once and arrange about Polly.”

“Don’t mention the man’s name again; it makes my blood boil to hear you speak it!”

“But this is tyranny; and you are worse than the canon; and I can not bear it.”

“Very well; as you will.  It’s of no use strugglingWhat is the time?”

“Six o’clock nearly.”

“I must see the canon before he goes to dinner.”

His manner had changed suddenly.  He looked crushed and benumbed.

“I am going now.” he said, turning aside.

“So soon?  When shall I see you again?”

“God knows!I meanI don’t know,” he answered in a helpless way.

He was looking around, as if taking a mental farewell of everything.

“But we can not part like this,” she said.  “I think you like me a little still, and ”

Her supplicating voice made him look up into her face for a moment.  Then he turned away, saying, “Good-bye, Glory.”  And with a look of utter exhaustion he went out of the room.

Glory walked to a window at the end of the corridor that she might see him when he crossed the street.  There was just a glimpse of his back as he turned the corner with a slow step and his head on his breast.  She went back crying.

“I could fancy a fresh herring for supper, dear,” said Polly.  “What do you say, housekeeper?”

John Storm went back to the canon’s house a crushed and humiliated man.  “I can do no more,” he thought.  “I will give it up.”  His old influence with Glory must have been lost.  Something had come between themsomething or some one.  “Anyhow it is all over and I must go away somewhere.”

To go on seeing Glory would be useless.  It would also be dangerous.  As often as he was face to face with her he wanted to lay hold of her and say, “You must do this and this, because it is my wish and direction and command, and it is I that say so!” In the midst of God’s work how subtle were the temptations of the devil!

But with every step that he went plodding home there came other feelings.  He could see the girl quite plainly, her fresh young face, so strong and so tender, so full of humour and heart’s love, and all the sweet beauty of her form and figure.  Then the old pain in his breast came back again and he began to be afraid.

“I will take refuge in the Church,” he thought.  In prayer and penance and fasting he would find help and consolation.  The Church was peacepeace from the noise of life, and strength to fight and to vanquish.  But the Church must be the Church of Godnot of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

“Ask the canon if he can see me immediately,” said John Storm to the footman, and he stood in the hall for the answer.

The canon had taken tea that day in the study with his daughter Felicity.  He was reclining on the sofa, propped up with velvet cushions, and holding the teacup and saucer like the wings of a butterfly in both hands.

“We have been deceived, my dear” (sip, sip), “and we must pay the penalty of the deception.  Yet we have nothing to blame ourselves fornothing whatever.  Here was a young man, from Heaven knows where, bent on entering the diocese.  True, he was merely the son of a poor lord who had lived the life of a hermit, but he was also the nephew, and presumably the heir, of the Prime Minister of England” (sip, sip, sip).  “Well, I gave him his title.  I received him into my house.  I made him free of my familyand what is the result?  He has disregarded my instructions, antagonized my supporters, and borne himself toward me with an attitude of defiance, if not disdain.”

Felicity poured out a second cup of tea for her father, sympathized with him, and set forth her own grievances.  The young man had no conversation, and his reticence was quite embarrassing.  Sometimes when she had friends, and asked him to come down, his silencewell, really

“We might have borne with these little deficiencies, my dear, if the Prime Minister had been deeply interested.  But he is not.  I doubt if he has ever seen his nephew since that first occasion.  And when I called at Downing Street, about the time of the sermon, he seemed entirely undisturbed.  ’The young man is in the wrong place, my dear canon; send him back to me.’  That was all.”

“Then why don’t you do it?” said Felicity.

“It is coming to that, my child; but blood is thicker than water, you know, and after all ”

It was at this moment the footman entered the room to ask if the canon could see Mr. Storm.

“Ah, the man himself!” said the canon, rising.  “Jenkyns, remove the tray.”  Dropping his voice:  “Felicity, I will ask you to leave us together.  After what occurred this morning at the hospital anything like a scene ” Then aloud:  “Bring him in, Jenkyns.Say something, my dear.  Why don’t you speak?Come in, my dear Storm.You’ll see to that matter for me, Felicity.  Thanks, thanks!  Sorry to send you off, but I’m sure Mr. Storm will excuse you.  Good-bye for the present.”

Felicity went out as John Storm came in.  He looked excited, and there was an expression of pain in his face.

“I am sorry to disturb you, but I need not detain you long,” he said.

“Sit down, Mr. Storm, sit down,” said the canon, returning to the sofa.

But John did not sit.  He stood by the chair vacated by Felicity, and kept beating his hat on the back of it.

“I have come to tell you, sir, that I wish to resign my curacy.”

The canon glanced up with a stealthy expression, and thought:  “How clever of him!  To resign before he is told plainly that he has to gothat is very clever.”

Then he said aloud:  “I am sorry, very sorry.  I’m always sorry to part with my clergy.  Stillyou see I am entirely frank with youI have observed that you have not been comfortable of late, and I think you are acting for the best.  When do you wish to leave me?”

“As soon as convenientas early as I can be spared.”

The canon smiled condescendingly.  “That need not trouble you at all.  With a staff like mine, you see Of course, you are aware that I am entitled to three months’ notice?”


“But I will waive it; I will not detain you.  Have you seen your uncle on the subject?”


“When you do so please say that I always try to remove impediments from a young man’s path if he is uncomfortablein the wrong place, for example.”

“Thank you,” said John Storm, and then he hesitated a moment before stepping to the door.

The canon rose and bowed affably.  “Not an angry word,” he thought.  “Who shall say that blood does not count for something?”

“Believe me, my dear Storm,” he said aloud, “I shall always remember with pride and pleasure our early connection.  Perhaps I think you are acting unwisely, even foolishly, but it will continue to be a source of satisfaction to me that I was able to give you your first opportunity, and if your next curacy should chance to be in London, I trust you will allow us to maintain the acquaintance.”

John Storm’s face was twitching and his pulses were beating violently, but he was trying to control himself.

“Thank you,” he said; “but it is not very likely ”

“Don’t say you are giving up Orders, dear Mr. Storm, or perhaps that you are only leaving our church in order to unite yourself to another.  Ah! have I touched on a tender point?  You must not be surprised that rumours have been rife.  We can not silence the tongues of busybodies and mischief-makers, you know.  And I confess, speaking as your spiritual head and adviser, it would be a source of grief to me if a young clergyman, who has eaten the bread of the Establishment, and my own as well, were about to avow himself the subject and slave of an Italian bishop.”

John Storm came back from the door.

“What you are saying, sir, requires that I should be plain spoken.  In giving up my curacy I am not leaving the Church of England; I am only leaving you.”

“I am so glad, so relieved!”

“I am leaving you because I can not live with you any longer, because the atmosphere you breathe is impossible to me, because your religion is not my religion, or your God my God!”

“You surprise me.  What have I done?”

“A month ago I asked you to set your face as a clergyman against the shameful and immoral marriage of a man of scandalous reputation, but you refused; you excused the man and sided with him.  This morning you thought it necessary to investigate in public the case of one of that man’s victims, and you sided with the man againyou denied to the girl the right even to mention the scoundrel’s name!”

“How differently we see things!  Do you know I thought my examination of the poor young thing was merciful to the point of gentleness!  And that, I may tell younotwithstanding the female volcano who came down on mewas the view of the board and of his lordship the chairman.”

“Then I am sorry to differ from them.  I thought it unnecessary and unmanly and brutal, and even blasphemous!”

“Mr. Storm!  Do you know what you are saying?”

“Perfectly, and I came to say it.”

His eyes were wild, his voice was hoarse; he was like a man breaking the bonds of a tyrannical slavery.

“You called that poor child a prostitute because she had wasted the good gifts which God had given her.  But God has given good gifts to you alsogifts of intellect and eloquence with which you might have raised the fallen and supported the weak, and defended the downtrodden and comforted the broken-heartedand what have you done with them?  You have bartered them for bénéfices, and peddled them for popularity; you have given them in exchange for money, for houses, for furniture, for things like thisand thisand this!  You have sold your birthright for a mess of pottage, therefore you are the prostitute!”

“You’re not yourself, sir; leave me,” and, crossing the room, the canon touched the bell.

“Yes, ten thousand times more the prostitute than that poor fallen girl with her taint of blood and will!  There would be no such women as she is to fall victims to evil companionship if there were no such men as you are to excuse their betrayers and to side with them.  Who is most the prostitutethe woman who sells her body, or the man who sells his soul?”

“You’re mad, sir!  But I want no scene ”

“You are the worst prostitute on the streets of London, and yet you are in the Church, in the pulpit, and you call yourself a follower of the One who forgave the woman and shamed the hypocrites, and had not where to lay his head!”

But the canon had faced about and fled out of the room.

The footman came in answer to the bell, and, finding no one but John Storm, he told him that a lady was waiting for him in a carriage at the door.

It was Mrs. Callender.  She had come to say that she had called at the hospital for Polly Love, and the girl had refused to go to the home at Soho.

“But whatever’s amiss with ye, man?” she said.  “You might have seen a ghost!”

He had come out bareheaded, carrying his hat in his hand.

“It’s all over,” he said.  “I’ve waited weeks and weeks for it, but it’s over at last.  It was of no use mincing matters, so I spoke out.”

His red eyes were ablaze, but a great load seemed to be lifted off his mind, and his soul seemed to exult.

“I have told him I must leave him, and I am to go, immediately.  The disease was dire, and the remedy had to be dire also.”

The old lady was holding her breath and watching his flushed face with strained attention.

“And what may ye be going to do now?”

“To become a religious in something more than the name; to leave the world altogether with its idleness and pomp and hypocrisy and unreality.”

“Get yoursel’ some flesh on your bones first, man.  It’s easy to see ye’ve no been sleeping or eating these days and days together.”

“That’s nothingnothing at all.  God can not take half your soul.  You must give yourself entirely.”

“Eh, laddie, laddie, I feared me this was what ye were coming til.  But a man can not bury himself before he is dead.  He may bury the half of himself, but is it the better half?  What of his thoughtshis wandering thoughts?  Choose for yoursel’, though, and if you must goif you must hide yoursel’ forever, and this is the last I’m to see of yeye may kiss me, laddieI’m old enough, surely.Go on, James, man, what for are ye sitting up there staring?”

When John Storm returned to his room he found a letter from Parson Quayle.  It was a good-natured, cackling epistle, full of sweet nothings about Glory and the hospital, about Peel and the discovery of ancient ruins in the graveyards of the treen chapels, but it closed with this postscript: 

“You will remember old Chalse, a sort of itinerant beggar and the privileged pet of everybody.  The silly old gawk has got hold of your father and has actually made the old man believe that you are bewitched!  Some one has put the evil eye on yousome woman it would seemand that is the reason why you have broken away and behaved so strangely!  It is most extraordinary.  That such a foolish superstition should have taken hold of a man like your father is really quite astonishing, but if it will only soften his rancour against you and help to restore peace we may perhaps forgive the distrust of Providence and the outrage on common sense.  All’s well that ends well, you know, and we shall all be happy.”